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2018 Pac-12 quarterback battle preview: UCLA and USC try to replace Josh Rosen and Sam Darnold

How do the conference’s quarterback battles look going into Spring?

NCAA Football: Southern California at Arizona State Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Quarterback competitions are always the best thing most-interesting part of Spring football. The Pac-12 has a handful of interesting ones taking place this Spring. Here are how they shape up going in.

Oregon State

The Beavers started the season with massive J.C. transfer Jake Luton starting, but went back to senior Darell Garretson after Luton went down. With Garretson gone, the job is wide open this Spring.

  1. Jake Luton 6’7 230 Sr. - He was the starter before a serious injury took him down early last season. Luton has the best physical tools of any QB on the Beaver roster by far so he’s the early favorite in my opinion, but he didn’t light the world on fire in his time in 2017, and that combined with his injury, means this is a wide open race.
  2. Aidan Willard 6’2 190 rFr. - Williard redshirted in 2017 and is the leading candidate to beat out Luton. He has more mobility than Luton and a lot of practice reps under his belt.
  3. Jake Dukart 6’2 180 Fr. - Dukart is definitely a player to watch given he is the only QB on the roster recruited by new quarterback Jonathan Smith. I’m sure Smith and his staff would love to give him more time to bulk up and get reps, but if he’s their favorite option, I’m sure they’ll put him in, especially considering he will be available this Spring.


Josh Rosen left early for the NFL so Chip Kelly will start with a nearly clean slate at QB. The cupboard is far from bare though as Devon Modster, who stepped in for Rosen when hurt is available, as is a grad transfer and blue chip incoming freshman.

  1. Devon Modster 6’2 210 So. - Kelly walked into a nice prospect in Modster, who was good in fill-in duty last year for Rosen. The Cactus Bowl was a nice audition as he passed for nearly 300 yards with two touchdowns and no picks as an athletic QB with good size. Has to be the favorite going in.
  2. K.J. Carta-Samuels 6’2 220 Sr. - The grad transfer from Washington is an interesting prospect as he’s been in college for four years already, but barely played behind Jake Browning. He’s big with some mobility, but will have to show consistent passing ability to beat out Modster.
  3. Dorian Thompson-Robinson 6’2 200 Fr. - One of the top QB recruits in the Class of 2018 won’t be enrolled for Spring football, but he will be a major player come Fall camp as an electric dual-threat.


I think a lot of people were surprised when Sam Darnold left after his sophomore year and now the Trojans will have to find a new quarterback of the future just about a season and a half after finding their answer in Darnold.

  1. Matt Fink 6’3 190 So. - Fink won the back up job last year over Sears so he’s the favorite going into Spring even though he only threw nine passes. He has great athleticism for a quarterback so he would be able to keep that dynamic the Trojans relied on in Darnold’s game and he flashed it with a 51-yard TD run last year against Oregon State.
  2. Jack Sears 6’3 200 rFr. - Will challenge Fink again in camp. He was a blue chip recruit coming out of high school, but might be a hair behind Fink given he lost the back-up job to him last year.
  3. J.T. Daniels 6’2 205 Fr. - Daniels won’t be available in Spring, but will be an interesting prospect come Fall. He is five-star recruit from the Class of 2019 who is graduating a full year early from high school.

Washington State

It looks like the Cougars were going to transition from Luke Falk to Tyler Hilinski until Hilinski’s tragic passing. The job is now completely wide open going into Spring.

  1. Connor Neville 6’2 200 rFr. - Neville was one of the best recruits to ever sign with the Cougars so he will likely be the top candidate going in. He has the practice reps that should give him an advantage in the competition.

2. Cammon Cooper 6’4 210 Fr. - Mike Leach’s newest QB recruit might get to start right away. He has the size and arm needed to step into Leach’s air raid right away.